By Constantinos Psillides
THE Health, Interior and Justice ministers, Philippos Patsalis, Socratis Hasikos and Ionas Nicolaou, will hold a joint meeting on October 15 to discuss the issue of gun control, following a recent spate of crimes and assaults using licensed hunting or army-issue weapons.
The meeting will focus on improving communication between the various government departments that deal with gun possession, to ensure that no mentally unstable person keeps a gun.
The ministers are also expected to call for a legislation amendment to make it easier for police to confiscate hunting guns, even from licensed hunters.
As the law currently stands, police can only intervene after substantial evidence is presented to suggest that the person in question is a potential threat and can only confiscate the gun with a court order.
The army issues rifles to anyone who serves in the military during the 24-month mandatory service and that while police background checks for issuing gun permits are thorough, they never review them again.
The meeting was arranged in the wake of a recent murder-suicide case at Kornos village on August 26. Thirty-five year-old Christos Eleftheriou shot and killed his ex-wife Stavroula Florou, 31, with a hunting gun in front of their two children. He then fled to a nearby wooded area and shot himself.
Eleftheriou had been committed to a psychiatric hospital with anger management issues but was released without the Mental Services notifying the police. Mental Services officials told the press that they had notified the army to take Eleftheriou’s rifle but didn’t coordinate with the police.
In a similar incident in June, a 41-year-old father of two shot and killed his estranged wife, 35, and his nine-year old daughter using his army issue G3 rifle. He also shot and critically injured his son, 14, who managed to survive the rampage.
The man shot his wife through the windshield of her car and then shot his daughter while she was trying to get out. He chased down his son to a nearby plot where he shot him twice from behind, injuring his lung and leg. Standing over his son’s body, the man then took his own life.
The incident caused uproar, with people going as far as demanding that reservists hand their army rifles back. Defence minister Christoforos Fokaides had to publicly intervene, saying that the army was looking into ways of ensuring that reservists who were given rifles are capable and that taking the guns away wasn’t a solution since Cyprus is still under occupation.